Monday, March 2, 2020

Review: "The Invisible Man" is 2020's Biggest Surprise (so far, at least!)

The Invisible Man Review
I have to be honest, friends, "The Invisible Man" was NOT on my 2020 radar. 

I remember seeing the trailers for this movie in front of "Doctor Sleep" in November, and I didn't feel too impressed by them. I knew that Universal had not done much of anything exciting with their classic monsters they still own to this day. I knew that "The Mummy" from 2017, which was designed to jumpstart a Universal Monster shared universe, was dead and gone after one movie. I didn't think there was any way that "The Invisible Man" would be any good at all. Then I started paying attention to reviews. Then I started to hear the word-of-mouth from the movie, and to my astonishment, the word-of-mouth was positive. Had Universal Pictures finally cracked the code? Perhaps, I thought.

Had the Dark Universe began with this "Invisible Man" instead of "The Mummy" and had "The Mummy" just been scrapped altogether, then I think we'd still be talking about the Dark Universe today. "The Invisible Man" is a great example of how you update a character, an idea and a theme for 2020. It's a great example of a great remake. See, when a director sits down to direct, they have a chance to say something, they have a chance to do something we have never seen before, no matter what the material is. Nothing ever has to be "just a remake," its your time to show us what you got. Let me tell you, director Leigh Whannell just showed us what he's got. I missed "Upgrade" from a couple years back, now I feel like I owe it to the guy to check it out. Now, I am onboard for whatever he does next.

The original Universal Pictures classic was based on the novel by H.G. Wells. A scientist does some experiments on himself, and he turns himself invisible. The invisibility drives him mad. Now, in 2020. After seeing this idea, and variations of it, over and over again, it was time for an update. Now, in this new movie, Elisabeth Moss plays Cecilia, a woman who feels trapped inside an abusive relationship. As the film begins, we see her plan to escape from her boyfriend and run away to be with friends. Her boyfriend Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) breaks Cecilia's friends car window to get to her. Feeling safe, she soon finds out that Adrian has died weeks after her escape. Adrian's lawyer lets Cecilia know that he has left her a nice fortune. She now feels in the clear.

Suddenly, little by little, her life begins to fall apart. From very small things, then to evolving into big things...like murder. She soon begins to realize that Adrian is somehow still alive and is the one messing around with her life. Adrian is also somehow invisible. Of course, that's complicated to explain to friends and family trying to help Cecilia through this traumatic time. There is no denying at he is there and that he is messing with her. 

Elisabeth Moss is excellent in this movie. She's been slowly becoming a more than reliable dramatic actress. She was revving her engine in "Mad Men" and then she hit it big with "The Handmaid's Tale." She may not have been in "Us" very long, but she sure as hell made use of her small screen time. She has proven to me that she is a woman who can do just about anything. She does great navigation through this very paranoid fable.

Whannell does a nice job making the audience paranoid as well. There are times in this movie where the camera is pointing somewhere, and you are not exactly sure if Adrian is in the shot or not. You suddenly become Cecilia in those moments. There are moments of great cinematic shock. There are also moments that are just plain thrilling to watch. There are also big moments that you probably won't see coming either. I think its really clever how they were able to update the story. Yep, if you like the classic movie, and I'm right there with you, forget about it. This is an Invisible Man for 2020 and I think you'll agree its pretty cool how they've updated it for a modern world.

Let's hope that this is just the beginning of an era of great remakes. Hopefully its a sign that "Candyman" will be good too?

FINAL GRADE: A-

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